Parents Work and Subsistence Activities

Evidence from intracultural and cross-cultural research also reveals how parents' work roles affect maternal and paternal involvement with offspring. For example, the Aka of Central Africa (Hewlett, 1992) and the Batek of Malaysia (Endicott, 1992) exhibit egalitarian marital and parental relationships as well as similar and often shared work roles. Aka and Batek fathers are involved with their children both in their villages and homes, and in their work tasks, where children often work alongside their fathers. According to Hewlett and Endicott, the shared economic activities of Aka and Batek fathers and mothers leads to greater daily interaction between fathers and children. This interaction often leads to paternal familiarity with a broad range of children's needs, and thus increased opportunities to practice and master child-rearing skills.

Similar findings were reported by Morelli and Tronick (1992) who found that the foraging Efe of Zaire had relatively egalitarian mother-father relationships compared with their neighbors, the pastoralist Lese. Efe mothers and fathers were equally involved in work activities, while there was a stricter division of labor among the Lese. Efe fathers, like Lese fathers, were generally physically proximate to their children, but Efe fathers were more actively involved in monitoring and training children than were Lese fathers.

Aronoff (1967) also found significant differences in child-rearing practices, particularly those associated with warmth and control, between two groups of fathers living in St. Kitts, West Indies—those employed as cane cutters, and those employed as fishermen. These men lived in the same West Indian island village, but their subsistence activities, male-female relationships, family structure, and early childhood experiences differed significantly. The differences in child-rearing, according to Aronoff, were related to parents' work and subsistence activities that promoted authoritative and nurturant caretaking behavior on the part of fishermen fathers, and closed, hostile, and discipline-focused behavior on the part of cane-cutter fathers.

But the cane cutter is clearly a marginal figure in the life of the child. His most important task, beyond [financial] support, is to discipline the child and teach him manners. Items such as "proper behavior," "teach them not to do wrong," "give them licks," and "rule the children," are heavily stressed. The children are very much the responsibility of the mother, and the male is useful only in providing the financial resources and the strong right arm ... Just as the fisherman is concerned with establishing a crew in which he is interdependent and interactive with the other members, so too does he demand the same with his family. His role seems to be much more nurturant, thoroughly implicating him in the care and fostering of his children. (Aronoff, 1967, pp. 183-185)

Radin (1981b, 1994) found that middle-class U.S. fathers who adhered to nontraditional gender-role ideology (i.e., frequently valued fathers' involvement with their children) were more likely than traditional fathers (i.e., who infrequently valued fathers' involvement with children) to have a positive influence on youths' intellectual and personality development. Radin (1988) found that the non-traditional style was initially adopted when fathers had flexible work hours or were not working at all, and the non-traditional fathers supported their wives' (i.e., children's mothers) strong career interests. Also, mothers supported fathers' decisions to be more involved, particularly when fathers were not positively invested in their own careers. Predictors of long-range paternal involvement included mothers' growing investment in their careers, mothers' high salaries, and fathers' parttime work schedule and/or flexible work hours (Radin, 1988). Furthermore, Barnett and Baruch (1988) found that fathers' participation was the highest when both husbands and wives were employed, and when mothers' gender-role attitudes were liberal toward fathers' decisions to be involved in child-rearing.

Aronoff's findings about the influence of social and economic realities on men's parenting behaviors appear to echo Mead's perception, quoted earlier, that father-child attachments are fragile and highly dependent on sociocultural circumstances. Indeed, together with findings about the negative effects of low father involvement, or father absence (Biller, 1993; Broude, 1990;

Munroe & Munroe, 1992; B. Whiting & Whiting, 1975), it is perhaps understandable that some have concluded that fathers' influence tends to be less positive than that of mothers, or that fathers are less important than mothers (Amato, 1994; Hojat, 1999; Shulman & Collins, 1993; Stern, 1995; Williams & Radin, 1993). However, as noted earlier, a significant body of multivariate research from the 1990s shows that when fathers and mothers are studied concurrently, both make important positive and negative contributions to children's development.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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